A Corpus Stylistics News Story Analysis of a Japan-China Faceoff: The Senkaku-Diaoyu Territorial Dispute


News coverage of the Japan-China territorial confrontation (Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands) reveals marked differences in the way the two countries present their claims. This study explores this issue by showing that Japanese descriptions of the argument are more neutrally presented, through restrained and hedged lexical choices without metaphorical allusions, resulting in a rational, somewhat abstract, and arguably weaker case being put forward. Chinese descriptions tend to be more hawkish in their choice of aggressive lexis and employ forceful metaphors resulting in a more emotive presentation of the issue. Japanese concerns about Chinese representations of the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue being more vivid are supported by the results of this study, but a less inflammatory, more reasoned approach, as followed by the Japanese news agencies, also has its merits. The research question, drawing on a corpus of Japanese and Chinese news agency articles, such as those written by Kyodo and Xinhua, and other press articles was, “Do Japanese and Chinese news stories differ stylistically in their coverage of the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute?” To examine this question, news agency articles written in English were collected using LexisNexis. Following the approach to analyzing journalism stylistics of Broersma (2010) and corpus stylistics principles of Mahlberg (2012), analysis of English language news stories targeted at an international readership was carried out focusing on tagged lexical and metaphorical items. Discussion is scaffolded using the stylistic concepts of foregrounding and deviance (Leech, 2008). The study advances the case for using corpus stylistics to parse journalistic texts.

Author Information
Barry Natusch, Nihon University, Japan
Beryl Hawkins, Temple University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2014
Stream: Journalism

This paper is part of the MediAsia2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon